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Summary of the Estate Tax Barclay Reiser Economics 212 080300 The estate tax is a tax placed on the assets of a deceased person as the estate is passed to the heirs This should not be construed as a tax on the heirs but a tax on the total holdings of the estate both tangible and intangible The gift tax and generation- skipping taxes are taxes developed by the government to reduce the loopholes that the estate tax created to ensure the taxation of all eligible estates Since its inception constituent opinion has been that the estate tax is essentially double taxation People pay tax on their income throughout their lives then upon their death the remaining assets are again taxed as their estate is passed to their heirs In recent months Congress passed legislation that will repeal the federal estate gift and generation-skipping tax by the year 2010 The repeal of the estate tax mainly affects only the countrys wealthiest families since these are the only families that pay the tax For example a little less than 2 percent of the people who died in 1997 faced an estate tax Therefore 98 out of every 100 estates of the people who died faced no estate tax Before the repeal in 1999 each member of a married couple was allowed a 625000 exemption This would allow a married couple a 125 million exemption from the estate tax In 2000 this exemption rose to 675000 per member or 135 million per couple This exemption is scheduled to continue to rise till the year 2006 when the exception will be 1 million per member or 2 million per couple Eventually the total estate tax will be repealed in 2010 along with its counterparts the gift and generation-skipping taxes As stated earlier less than 2 percent of the people who died in
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